Coles boss calls for inquiry into 'burden' of red tape

Ian McLeod called for meaningful and sensible solutions.

Coles boss Ian McLeod has slammed the red tape that he says is strangling business and has called for the Productivity Commission to launch an inquiry into the "burden of regulation".

Speaking at a business lunch on Friday, Mr McLeod said the Productivity Commission should survey the raft of challenges that face private businesses and provide meaningful and sensible solutions.

"[The Productivity Commission] tend to have very sensible judgments on analysis that they do with constructive recommendations attached to it," Mr McLeod said.

"Whether those recommendations get taken up is a matter for government, but I think their analysis in this area would definitely be a benefit. Every businessman I talk to regardless of what industry they are in tends to talk about the level of and burden of regulation that they have to encounter or endure."

Mr McLeod said a new Coles supermarket recently opened in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton took four years to get through local council regulations. "And Victoria is one of better states for [planning] submissions," Mr McLeod said.

He said for every one piece of regulation removed from the list of red tape that confronts business more than 200 new rules, licences or regulations were created.

He said an inquiry by the Productivity Commission shouldn't be limited to the food and supermarkets sector.

Coles also released its first cost of living report which it said showed the biggest concerns for consumers was the increasing cost of utility bills.

He said consumers were seeking to save money as well as make their dollars stretch further by not eating out as often. Supermarkets had benefited from this through greater purchase of fresh food, ingredients to prepare meals at home.

Fresh herb sales at Coles have increased by more than 21 per cent compared with two years ago, fresh chillies by 34 per cent and spices by almost 10 per cent, the Coles report revealed.